herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Drug dealer walks free after Lauren's hotel party death

TRAGEDY: 22-year-old supplied ecstasy and cocaine

A YOUNG man who supplied cocaine and ecstasy at a hotel party where a teenager collapsed and later died has avoided jail after a court heard he had "turned his life around".

David O'Connell (22) was put on a bond to keep the peace for a year for possessing and supplying drugs to the party in Finglas three years ago in which tragic Lauren Keech (18) collapsed from a fatal overdose.

Dublin District Court heard he had come "perilously close" to being sent to prison for his role in the tragedy.

O'Connell, with an address at Charlemont Street, had pleaded guilty to possession of ecstasy and cocaine with intent to supply at the Ardmore Hotel on December 22-23, 2007.

Ms Keech died from multi-organ failure in hospital after taking drugs at a room a group of young people had booked for a Christmas party.

Judge John O'Neill put O'Connell on his own bond of €100 and told him if he stayed out of trouble for the next year "that would be an end to the matter".

The case was heard last year and was back before Dublin District Court for a probation report on the accused. The judge noted that O'Connell had co-operated "very positively" with the probation service and had "more or less disassociated himself from the previous company he had been keeping".

He now had a child and stepson with his partner to "concentrate his mind on".

Chris Horrigan, defending, said it was a "difficult case, a very emotive case and a very distressing case".

"He knows that you made no promises on the last occasion and he is under no illusion", Mr Horrigan said.





Probation

Judge O'Neill said: "He has certainly utilised the probation service to his own benefit and he deserves credit for co-operating so fully.

"He has to keep his head down for the next 12 months and if he does so, that will be an end to the matter."

At a previous hearing, Judge O'Neill said his thoughts were with "the unfortunate girl" who is "dead and gone" and whose family now may only have her grave to visit.

The court had heard O'Connell made a full and frank admission to gardai about his involvement.

He was one of a group of young people who were having a party in a room in the hotel. The group decided that O'Connell and a co-accused should go and buy cocaine and ecstasy to bring to the party.

O'Connell was part of "a joint enterprise between very foolish and stupid young people" and he did not expect to profit from what he was doing.

It went "horribly wrong" and the collapse of Miss Keech caused him and the group "anxiety, panic and distress".

Garda Angela McFadden said the co-accused with O'Connell did not buy the drugs or bring them back to the party and had received a six-month sentence.

aphelan@herald.ie

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